Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Killing Civil-Asset Forfeiture

For John, BLUFThis should be a bi-partisan issue.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

We all remember past discussions of the Caswell Motel, such as this item talking about Civil-Asset Forfeiture Laws, and this one talking about how after Federal Attorney Carmen Ortiz harassed the Caswell Motel the owner sold the business, with the motel to become a bowling alley.

Civil-Asset Forfeiture is an example of a good idea, an apparently good law, grown out of control.  Another example is the RICO Statute, designed to go after Mafia type organizations.

In Sunday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun is an opinion piece by Attorneys John Yoder and Brad Cates, headlined "Kill the monster that was our baby", about Civil-Asset Forfeiture.  It is worth reading.

Aside from the fact that all Laws should have a Sunset Clause, we need to ask for great care in drafting laws.  And we should step back when we seem to be targeting a class of criminals, to ensure we are not going to also sweep up law-abiding citizens.

Regards  —  Cliff

"These are not the changes you are looking for"

For John, BLUFChange requires voters to act differently.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On City Life this morning Host George Anthes condemned various Republicans in the City, including your's truly, for not supporting worthy Democrats for the General Court.  OK, that is an approach.

Then, with a couple of minutes to go in the show there was agreement by those on the show about how corrupt things are down on Beacon Hill, which results in our road repair monies not being properly and effectively spend.

I don't think they saw the irony in their positions.

Which leads us to a letter to the editor in today's edition of The [Lowell] Sun, from Mr Rick Green of Pepperell, responding to a Column by Mr Peter Lucas.  Mr Lucas was all up in the air over a mailing by Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, of which Mr Green is Chairman. The Mass Fiscal Alliance has been pointing out the voting records of current members of the General Court.  For example, voting to index the gas tax to inflation (Hint:  Vote YES on Ballot Question 1).

Here is an extract from the letter:

I also had to smile, noticing Mr. Lucas' choices to ignore decreases in local aid on Rep. Arciero's watch, to gloss over Rep. Arciero's indexing the gas tax to inflation, and to fail to even mention Rep. Arciero's vote to make committee votes unavailable to the public.
That last one is especially troubling.  Why should committee votes be secret?  What happened to the idea of transparency in government?

If we don't like the direction of our Commonwealth, but we keep voting the party in power back into office we are not likely to see the change we think we are looking for.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Democrats seems to have mastered the Jedi Mind Tricks techniques.  Remember Alec Guinness saying to the guards "These are not the droids you are looking for."

UTEC Grand Opening

For John, BLUFThis is the positive side of our teens.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Cafe UTEC is having its grand opening at 1100 this morning, until 1400 (2:00 PM).

41 Warren Street.

It is about the food, but it is about the teens and what they have accomplished.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 29, 2014

Voter Fraud in The Constitution State

For John, BLUFNot Connecticut!  Nothing to see here; just move along.

We got to the article in the New Haven Register via Weasel Zippers, on a link from the Instapundit.  The headline reads:
Bridgeport State Rep. Christina Ayala arrested on 19 voting fraud charges
The second paragraph reads:
Ayala, 31, is accused of voting in local and state elections in districts she did not live, the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
And she apparently pulled her poor Mother into this imbroglio.

I am not sure requiring voter ID would have uncovered this sooner, but it might well have acted as a deterrent.  Or not.  It would appear, from the web site of Connecticut Secretary of State Denise W Merrill that an ID card is required to vote.  And, Ms Merrill is a Democrat.  I wonder if voter fraud would be worse if there was no voter ID requirement?

Hat tip to the Instapundit, who commented, "And yet, I keep hearing it’s a myth".

Or a "dog whistle".  That is, accusing Republicans of talking about voter ID is a dog whistle to Democrats saying that Republicans wish to suppress certain minorities.  "Oh what a tangled web we weave…"

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Questions for President Obama from Within His Own Camp

For John, BLUFThe Democrats have not just fallen into lockstep behind the President.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Washington Post there is this OpEd by Ms Rosa Brooks, "Why Obama's assurance of 'no boots on the ground' isn't so reassuring". Here is the short bio of Ms Books:
Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, was an Obama administration appointee at the Defense Department from 2009 to 2011.  She is married to an Army Special Forces officer.
The President is having a tough sell job within his own Party.

And then there is this from "Speech Boy" (Michael A Cohen) in our local Boston Globe—"Obama’s imperial about-face on ISIS".  (The print edition did not include the word "imperial" in the headline.)  Here is the conclusion.

Congress is not off the hook here.  The legislative branch has a responsibility to weigh in and not abdicate its responsibility by heading home as the current Congress has done.  But considering that Obama has said he doesn’t need their permission, there is little political incentive for them to act.  If anything, Obama should demand their support, for precisely the reasons he told the Globe six years ago.

In the era of the imperial presidency, Obama may end up being the most imperial of all — an outcome that would have been unimaginable seven years ago but one for which the next president intent on fighting an endless war with no congressional check will thank him.

For those who are thinking I am dredging up another Republican, I assure you from reading articles and EMails from Mr Cohen that he is a Progressive and up to this point a strong supporter of President Obama and his path.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cultural Cluelessness

For John, BLUFMaybe we should all send copies of the Apostles Creed to their Lordships, the Editors of The New York Times.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

While a lot of Roman Catholics get confused by the terms Resurrection, Ascension and Assumption, one would expect the nation's Newspaper of Record to get these kinds of things straight.  Apparently not.  per the Daily Caller the NYT identified the Church of the Holy Seplucher as the place where Jesus is buried.  Not according to your average Christian.  They believe He rose from the dead, and thus is no longer buried, there or anywhere.  You may not believe it, but it is culturally insensitive to suggest that Christians believe he is still buried.

Matthew 28-6.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Voter ID in Virginia

For John, BLUFVoting is important.  A little active protection is in order.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At Pajamas Media Mark Obenshain considers the number of "Pinochios" The Washington Post deserves for its headline about 450,000 Virginia Voters without a qualifying identification.  Four.

Here is something to consider.  If you are blind here in Massachusetts and you have a Service Dog, the Service Dog has a photo ID.  While I am dead set against a national ID program, I do not see what the problem is with citizens getting a photo ID from their local State Government.  What do you do when you are buying booze?  If they ask for a photo ID do you whine and stomp your foot and make a scene rather than have a proper ID?  When you go for medical care do you get an exemption to the rule I have to follow regarding showing an ID?

Sure, walking down the street you shouldn't have to have an ID.  But we are talking about taking part in Government, actively.  I think flashing an ID is OK.  In fact, it might be therapeutic, a step along the path to becoming a full, participating citizen.

Was the article a form of BenSmithing?  Mr Obenshain seems to think so, although he doesn't use that term.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fraternities and Drinking

For John, BLUFPlaying adults without being adults.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at Bloomberg is a Virginia Postrel post on the short-lived Forbes column by Mr Bill Frezza, “Drunk Female Guests Are The Gravest Threat To Fraternities”.  As Ms Postrel points out in her post, "Frat Boys, Drunken Girls and Paternalism", Mr Frezze's big sin was suggesting that already over-served women were a threat to Fraternities and a minefield of potential problems, and should be turned away.  This was judged by the bien-pensant to be a case of blaming the victim before the victim becomes a victim and thus unacceptable.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  By the way, in Lowell MA, it is against the rules to serve someone who has been over-served.

Friday, September 26, 2014

State of the Race

For John, BLUFToo close to have confidence.  Especially with 22% of the voters still undecided.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Boston Globe, Reporter Jim O'Sullivan gives us "Baker edges ahead of Coakley".  That would be businessman Charlie Baker and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Here is the key paragraph:

Republican Charlie Baker holds a slender lead of 2 percentage points over Coakley, 40 percent to 38 percent, an inversion of last week’s survey, in which Coakley was ahead by 3 percentage points. Among voters who said they will “definitely vote,” Baker enjoys an advantage of 41 percent to 37 percent.
Here is an explanation for the switch in positions put forward by The Globe:
Coakley may be suffering from the souring national mood toward her party’s leader, President Obama. Even in predominantly Democratic Massachusetts, more voters, 48 percent, disapprove of the president’s job performance, than approve, 46 percent.
I thought the President, and his Party, was supposed to get a bounce out of starting military action.  Is the world turned upside down?

Additional bad news:

As White House Democrats prepare to stump in Massachusetts for Attorney General Martha Coakley in the governor’s race, a new Globe poll shows that national political conditions may be hobbling her chances for victory.
Were is Paul Revere when you need him.  Spread the word, "The White House Democrats are coming, The White House Democrats are coming."

Hat tip to the Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bring Back the Old Ways

For John, BLUFYou can't make everyone happy.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The vote last week on Scottish Independence has stirred up some interest in giving the English a little self-governance.  Over at Samizdata Poster Natalie Solent demands we "Restore the heptarchy!".
For the unlettered among you, the heptarchy is a collective name for the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Dorne, the Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers, the Kingdom of Monuntain and Vale, the Kingdom of the North, the Westerlands or Kingdom of the Rock, the Kingdom of the Reach, and the Kingdom of the Stormlands …

Bzzzt! Reset!

The heptarchy is a collective name for “the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of south, east, and central England during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, conventionally identified as seven: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex.  The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms eventually unified into the Kingdom of England.”

Like you care?  You should.  Following the vow made to the Scots by David Cameron in order to win the referendum of devo max to the limit of my credit card, the West Lothian question has come back to bite him.

The West Lothian question is easy to ask and almost impossible to answer.  As posed in 1977 by Tam Dalyell, former MP for the Scottish constituency, it demands to know why MPs from Scotland (and now Wales and Northern Ireland) should be able to vote on issues such as health and education that affect England when English MPs have no power to vote on social and other policies that are devolved to the parliament in Edinburgh (and now also the assemblies in Cardiff [Wales] and Belfast [Northern Ireland]).

Because welfare issues are devolved, members of the Westminster parliament elected from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have no power to decide how these policies should affect their constituents; ironically, they can vote only on welfare issues as they affect constituencies in England.

Would this not be the ultimate revenge for that Frenchie, William the Bastard, beating King Herold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Government Suppression of the Press

For John, BLUF"Eternal vigilance", as President Thomas Jefferson told us.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From blog of The Oregonian we have this headline—"Forest Service says media needs photography permit in wilderness areas, alarming First Amendment advocates".  This appears, to me, to be a blatant Government effort to control news.  Here is the link.  A license is $1,500.

It reminded me of a recent Washington Post article, "Reporters say White House sometimes demands changes to press-pool reports".  This is a "biting the hand that feeds you" on the part of The Wash PostThe Post must be concerned about this practice.

Hat tip to the Instapundit, who wants these folks "tarred, feathered, and booted from the civil service".

Regards  —  Cliff

  Strangely, the fine for violating the rule is only $1,000.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Eric Holder Going

For John, BLUFAs I have said before, General Holder has been a big disappointment to me.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On the radio a little while ago I heard that Us Attorney General Eric Holder is resigning.  He will leave the office once his replacement is on the job, per The Boston Globe.
WASHINGTON — Eric Holder, who served as the public face of the Obama administration’s legal fight against terrorism and weighed in on issues of racial fairness, is resigning after six years on the job. He is the nation’s first black attorney general.

The White House said that President Barack Obama would announce Holder’s departure later Thursday and that Holder planned to remain at the Justice Department until his successor was in place.

White House officials said Obama had not made a final decision on a replacement for Holder, who was one of the most progressive voices in his Cabinet. A Justice Department official said Holder finalized his plans in a meeting with the president over the Labor Day weekend.

I wonder what the Reporters Nedra Pickler and Jim Kuhnhenn meant by the phrase "one of the most progressive voice" of President Obama's appointees?

On a sad note, our Commonwealth Governor, Deval Patrick, has said he is not in the running.  That means we will not get to see the succession process play out.  I think that would have been interesting.  Maybe the office would have just been declared vacant and left that way until January of 2015.

Regards  —  Cliff

  On the other hand, when the President calls, one responds.

Evolution of a Foreign Policy

For John, BLUFEvery President has a learning curve.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is an article from Defense One, authored by reporter George E Condon.  He reviews the evolution of President Obama's speeches to the United Nations General Assembly.

"The Evolution of a War President in Six Speeches".

Here is the beginning of the article:

There may be no better way to track the evolution of Barack Obama's presidency than his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly, and no better way to assess where his foreign policy stands today than to watch Obama speak in New York Wednesday morning.

Both the man and the message have matured since he first took to the U.N. podium.  In that first address, on Sept. 23, 2009, the still-new president described himself as "humbled" to be there and his message was of "a discontent with a status quo" in the world.  As he had done in his campaign domestically, he urged other world leaders that day to join him in a global vision he said was "rooted in hope, the hope that real change is possible."  He spoke of ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and talked of "extremists" rather than "terrorists."  Russia was a partner, Guantanamo Bay would soon be emptied, and negotiators would find a way to close the Israeli-Palestinian divide.  Overhanging all else was the need to pull the world back from the economic abyss.

That was the start.  And, today, 28,000 words and five U.N. addresses later, "hope and change" has taken a step back; realpolitik has stepped forward.  There was no more talk of partnerships with Russia.  Instead, there was tough talk for the Kremlin of the type not heard in more than a decade.  In a rhetorical throwback to the days of the Cold War, the president coldly called Russia a "bully" for its actions in Ukraine as television cameras zeroed in on the stony-faced Russian delegation to see if they would storm out of the hall.  The words could have been said by any Cold War president from Truman to Reagan.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mr Condon led the team that garnered a Pulitzer covering former Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham and his corruption.

Manning Again in the News

For John, BLUFWhy feed the beast?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at Buzz Feed we have a story about the ACLU suing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel over the medical treatment of Private Chelsea Manning (Neé Bradley).  Here.

My sense is that the Government should do what it can to avoid publicity for this person, who was convicted of damaging our national security, while at the same time not creating or inviting disruption with regards to others detained at the US Disciplinary Barracks.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Does France Have the Model?

For John, BLUF.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The National Interest author Christopher S. Chivvis asks us to pause and look at how France handled an Islamic insurgency in Mali (Southwest corner of the Sahara).  The headline is "Does France Have the Master Plan to Defeat ISIS?"  The article is here.

Here are two excerpts:

The French strategy stopped a jihadist insurgency from taking over all of Mali, ejected the jihadists from the country almost entirely, and struck a major blow to their ability to threaten both the region and France itself.

In short, the French achieved on a smaller scale something very similar to what U.S. strategists hope to achieve now with operations against ISIS.  The challenge in Mali was far less complex than any operation against ISIS will be, but French success nevertheless has some important lessons for U.S. debate about how to deal with ISIS today.

Regards  —  Cliff

Questionable Ethics in the Operating Room

For John, BLUFMoney is the root of all evil.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Sunday, front page, top of the fold, The New York Times was an article on pop-up surgery charges.  The headline is "After Surgery, Surprise $117,000 Medical Bill From Doctor He Didn’t Know".  The author is Ms Elisabeth Rosenthal.  The dateline is 20 September, notwithstanding the article showing up in my Sunday edition.

This sort of reminds me of the "Fee Splitting" imbroglio of the 1950s, when Physician A would refer you to Physician B, who would then kick back money to Physician A for the referral.  This was considered ethically dubious.

Today it is mystery doctors showing up and doing (or not doing) something to you and you may not even be aware that they were coming or that they showed up.  It is a case of hidden charges.  It is being looked into by some state agencies across the fruited plain.  Here is an example:

A New York State law that will take effect in March — one of a few nationally — will offer some protection against many surprise charges and require more advance disclosure from doctors and hospitals on whether their services are covered by insurance.  It states, for example, that patients are not responsible for unforeseen out-of-network charges beyond what they would have paid in-network.  It directs insurers and hospitals to negotiate any further payment or enter mediation.
The article suggests that other nations deal with this issue differently:
In many other countries, such as Australia — where, as in the United States, people often rely on private insurance — it is seen as a patient’s right to be informed of out-of-pocket costs before hospitalization, said Mark Hall, a law professor at Wake Forest University.
Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

President Obama at the UN

For John, BLUFObama is now the Dubya third (fourth?) term?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Today President Obama spoke to the UN General Assembly about the fight against ISIL.  Here is a quick review from Foreign Policy Magazine, by Mr Colum Lynch.  The headline is "Obama to U.N.: OK, America Will Be World's Police". Here is an excerpt:
Obama outlined his four-pronged strategy for eradicating the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL: enlist the international community to help fight and destroy the movement; entice nations to counter the appeal of extremist ideology at home; convince governments to provide alternatives, particularly for young people, and offer better education and greater political freedom; and address the wider regional threat posed by worsening sectarian conflict between the region's Sunnis and Shiites.  "Let's be clear:  This is a fight that no one is winning," he said.
I like what the President said, but I am not sure everyone [in the Middle East] is interested in greater political freedom.  Some seem to be interested in their eternal salvation, which they see tied up in how they live their Islamic Faith—or what they see as their Islamic Faith.  For ISIL this is the faith that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, characterizes as "The Order of Satan".  Frankly, this is the key issue and one that can not be resolved by us.  The People of the Middle East have to decide where they come down on this issue.  The danger is that millions will go along to get along.

Regards  —  Cliff

  No, George, it is not a sign of being aligned with President Obama and the Democrat Team in DC to say ISIL.  It is a matter of using a better translation rather than clinging to some original understanding.
  There is Mao's view that "Political [religious] power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Padre Pio

For John, BLUFIn our lifetime.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

My wife and I try to do "Evening Prayer" before we go to sleep.  Sometimes we join with others around the world doing Evening Prayer and sometimes we just fall asleep.  Last night we did it and it turned out to be the Feast Day of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.  When we were stationed in Naples, Italy, then Padre Pio was still alive and living in San Giovanni Rotondo, on the other side of the peninsula from us.

One of the things about Padre Pio is that he had the stigmata.

Per Wikipedia he is the Patron Saint of "Don't Worry, Be Happy Day" (22 January).

Regards  —  Cliff

Climate Change Demos Sunday Last

For John, BLUFMan's historic state is poverty and "saving the planet" could return us to that state.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Glenn Reynolds we have a link to a Pajamas Media article by "Zombie", "Climate Movement Drops Mask, Admits Communist Agenda".

That seemed pretty extreme.  I figured the author was over the top.  Then I realized he was reporting from the Bay Area.  Out there it probably is possible to gather up a large number of people who believe that Capitalism, rather than bringing billions out of poverty is responsible for enchaining them and ruining their lives, and the planet.  That is a point of view.

Meanwhile, The LA Times has this article on the current status of Climate Change Science.

It's a climate puzzle that has vexed scientists for more than a decade and added fuel to the arguments of those who insist man-made global warming is a myth.

Since just before the start of the 21st century, the Earth's average global surface temperature has failed to rise despite soaring levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and years of dire warnings from environmental advocates.

Now, as scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gather in Sweden this week to approve portions of the IPCC's fifth assessment report, they are finding themselves pressured to explain this glaring discrepancy.

The panel, a United Nations creation that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, hopes to brief world leaders on the current state of climate science in a clear, unified voice.  However, experts inside and outside the process say members probably will engage in heated debate over the causes and significance of the so-called global warming hiatus.

The science is unsettled, apparently.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Visitors to the Red Planet

For John, BLUFMankind is again venturing out into space.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A pretty impressive effort by India has put a satellite in orbit around Mars, the Red Planet.  On the first attempt. 
Mangalyaan, Hindi for Mars craft, cost $74 million to send into space, making it by far the cheapest of recent missions to Mars.  The U.S. spent $671 million getting its Maven satellite to Mars orbit, where it arrived late Sunday.
So why can they do it for 11% of what we spent?

Congratulations to the Indian Space Agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Free Press

For John, BLUFSometimes some disorder is good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In a comment at my post "The Blind Eye of the MSM" I promised to continue the discussion at a new post.  What triggered this was a post by the Instapundit, which referred to a post by Ed Driscoll, titled "Roll Over Alinsky, and Tell Glenn Thrush the News".  In this case Alinsky refers to the famed Saul Alinsky.

What caught my attention was the lede, which referenced "BenSmithing":

John Nolte of Big Journalism coined the phrase “BenSmithing” to describe the tactics of the former Politico turned BuzzFeed scribe and member of the JournoList, that self-described “non-official campaign” to elect Obama, which as its founder Ezra Klein explained, was only open to his fellow leftists.  As the Urban Dictionary notes, BenSmithing is “a political tactic that disguises itself as journalism in order to protect Democrats, most specifically Barack Obama.”
The Urban Dictionary definition of “BenSmithing” can be found here.
(v) A political tactic that disguises itself as journalism in order to protect Democrats, most specifically Barack Obama.
In another forum we have been discussing Journalists and the question of professional ethics.  The consensus is that Journalism is not a profession.  This is probably because most of the folks on the forum have read The Soldier and the State at one time or another and accepted the idea that there are three things that distinguish a profession:
  1. Expertise
  2. Responsibility
  3. Corporateness
For the late Professor Huntington the military’s expertise is the management of violence.

The corporateness is the part where the members of the Profession band together to establish standards and to impose them.  Does that happen in Journalism, or does the pack band together when threatened?  When you have concepts such as "BenSmithing" the herd is banding together.  I think the same can be said about the effort to denigrate bloggers, such as the The New York Times suggesting, in a derogatory fashion, that bloggers are just people sitting around in their pajamas, typing on their laptops.  This does not support corporateness.

Frankly, I am not bothered by the lack of a profession of journalism.  Our democracy requires a free and competitive press and any efforts to regulate it and professionalize it likely works against the free and competitive part.

Regards  —  Cliff


Over The Top Politics

For John, BLUF"You are stupid" is OK, I guess, but not "Off with their heads".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

OK, it is The National Review, but still, I tend to see the approach of "radio host, activist, and attorney specializing in environmental law" Robert Kennedy, Junior, as a little too fascist.  From the lede:
Blissfully unaware of how hot the irony burned, Robert Kennedy Jr. yesterday took to a public protest to rail avidly in favor of censorship.  The United States government, Kennedy lamented in an interview with Climate Depot, is not permitted by law to “punish” or to imprison those who disagree with him — and this, he proposed, is a problem of existential proportions.  Were he to have his way, Kennedy admitted, he would cheer the prosecution of a host of “treasonous” figures — among them a number of unspecified “politicians”; those bêtes noires of the global Left, Kansas’s own Koch Brothers; “the oil industry and the Republican echo chamber”; and, for good measure, anybody else whose estimation of the threat posed by fossil fuels has provoked them into “selling out the public trust.”  Those who contend that global warming “does not exist,” Kennedy claimed, are guilty of “a criminal offense — and they ought to be serving time for it.”
Yes, lock up the opposition.  The only outcomes from such an approach are revolution or the loss of our humanity.

This is a case of being unable to win through logic and thus resorting to suppressing the opposition.  Tacky.  Large, raucous, demonstrations are OK.  Locking up the opposition is not.  As an aside, arresting demonstrators trying to get locked up seems OK to me.

UPDATE:  Corrected a typo. Regards  —  Cliff

Change in Intelligence Collection

For John, BLUFTrade offs must be made.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Once again the U-2, the Dragon Lady, is going away.  The replacement is the RQ-4 Global Hawk.  This from an article in Defense News. An interesting lede:
While the plan to keep new, unmanned Global Hawks over the aging manned U-2 has support among top Defense Department officials, the top combat general in the US Air Force says it is not the best military solution.
One of the losses in capability is that the RQ-4 can not cruise as high as the U-2.  This impacts where the aircraft can be route to avoid enemy defenses.  Flying higher can shrink the reach of hostile Surface-to-Air Missiles.

Tightening Defense Budgets mean reduced operational capability.  The question for the Public and for the Congress is if the reduction in capability is acceptable, when considered in light of the long term impact of defense spending on the US Economy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 22, 2014

Slicing and Dicing the Voters

For John, BLUFI like the CFA adverts.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Memeorandum I linked to this item at Talking Points Memo, about the upcoming election and dividing the electorate into Starbucks Nation and Chick-fil-A Country.  Those are the terms of Meet the Press Host Chuck Todd.  I think he has captured something.  Something deeper than "D" or "R".  Something about how people see themselves.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Blind Eye of the MSM

For John, BLUFThe Press has always been partisan.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I know I seem to dwell on the Vice President, but more important than his slips of the tongue is the fact that the Main Stream Media just passes over his carelessness, his slopping way of talking, but is happy to make sport of Republicans with even less of a problem.  See this item from The Washington Examiner.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Condi for 2016

For John, BLUFThere are no easy question in the White House and Condi can deal with tough questions.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Instapundit we have this post.
GOOD QUESTION:  Remind me again, why isn’t Condi Rice running for president?  “For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen any recent polling on Condi but as of December 2012, no major Republican except Christie had a favorable rating comparable to hers.  And Christie now isn’t what Christie was then, needless to say.  Exit question:  Is her reluctance about running mainly about not wanting to field ‘How come you aren’t married?!’ questions for the next six years?  I think the media would tread lightly there, but they’d tread.”

If she were a Democrat, it would be bigoted even to ask.

Or, her dream job, Commissioner of the National Football League.  Either one works for me and would work for the American People.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Selling the Strategy

For John, BLUFThe President seems to be making the right moves re ISIL.  Let's see in December.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

President Obama as columnist.

This was published in The Tampa Bay Times yesterday.  This was after his visit to MacDill Air Force Base, home to both the Deartment of Defense Special Operations Command and US Central Command, both of whom will be central to our fight against ISIL.

Regards  —  Cliff


For John, BLUFYou may see a fair amount of this in your line of work.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a helpful acronym, FOJ.

The acronym, standing for "Friend of Job", is explained in this blog post.

The Book of Job can be found here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Senator Reid on Illegal Immigration

For John, BLUFThis was 1993, so his thinking has "evolved".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I think the GOP is being just plain unfair to Senator Harry Reid with this video clip.  How can someone be held to what they said two decades ago?

Regards  —  Cliff

Uncle Fultie

For John, BLUFFirst there was Uncle Miltie [Milton Berle] and then there was Uncle Fultie.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This news about the late Bishop Fulton J Sheen is a week old, but since most readers of this blog probably don't read The Pilot it may be new to them.  "Archbishop Sheen's sainthood cause suspended indefinitely."  I wasn't following the process closely, but am surprised by this turn of events.  The person I know (knew) who would be really shocked is my late Father, who while not a church goer, never missed an episode of Fulton Sheen's TV Program, Life is Worth Living.

The story in The Pilot suggests bureaucratic bungling and mismanagement surrounding the exhumation of Bishop Sheen's body for the purpose of acquiring relics.  It proved difficult to get agreement amongst the Diocese of Peoria, the Archdiocese of New York and Bishop Sheen's family.

A case for sainthood requires a miracle and here is the one for Bishop Fulton J Sheen:

Bonnie Engstrom, whose delivery of a stillborn baby in 2010 provided the basis for a possible miracle attributable to Archbishop Sheen, expressed sadness and confusion over the delay in the sainthood cause.

"We are very disappointed that the cause to canonize Venerable Fulton Sheen had to be closed, especially because it had been progressing so well," she told the Catholic Herald, a British Catholic newspaper.  "We are incredibly saddened and confused by the Archdiocese of New York's decision to not cooperate with the Sheen Foundation on the cause. We trust in the goodness of God."

Engstrom's son James had no recorded heartbeat for 61 minutes after delivery.  Then, as doctors were about to pronounce the child dead, James' heart started beating.  He has defied doctors' predictions that he would not survive, or that he would have severe physical and developmental limitations.  In March, a seven-member team of medical experts convoked by the Vatican reported there is no natural explanation for the boy's survival.

The fact is that God knows his own and the finally accounting of the Saints is in Heaven.  As for here on Earth, Bishop Sheen is still an inspiration for those of us who remember him from the 1950s.

Here is a bit of the Bishop's wisdom:

Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace.  World wars are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the souls of men and women, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul.
Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Looking Back on the Invasion of Iraq

For John, BLUFPolitical truth is a plant that takes a century or more to grow and even then it may not grow straight.  The other possibility is that memory is just very short.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Looking back on it, I think that going into Iraq the second time was a mistake, however hopeful I was at the time that the Iraqi People would take advantage of it to become a democracy like Germany, Italy or Japan, following World War II.  If Iraq went Democratic then the "Arab Spring" would have started that much sooner.  It didn't work out that way and, in my humble opinion, part of the reason was that Retired Army General Jay Garner was not left in place to run the transition to Iraqi Democratic Rule.

However, now, looking back, many don't see it the way they did at the time.  Thus, there is some pushback by the COP.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The first time, after the invasion of Kuwait, was based upon a Joint Staff Strategic Plan updated by my office, through the efforts of then Colonel Montgomery C Meigs, III.  And a good job it was by Monty.
  Actually, Italy before the end of the war.

Criticism of President re Iraq

For John, BLUFThere is a lot of scrambling to protect individual reputations.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a headline from the blog Yid with Lid:
Leon Panetta-- ISIS Flourished Because US Left Iraq Too Soon-Involved In Syria Too Late
Those Republicans are relentless in their criticism of the President.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fighting Ebola From the Western Hemisphere

For John, BLUFFighting outbreaks like Ebola takes manpower.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Some times the doctrine gets in the way of the news.  My example this morning is this article from Nation of Change.  The writer is Mr Dave Llindorff and the headline is "Cuba Sees a Crisis, and Sends Docs; The US Sees an Opportunity and Sends Troops".

The assumption of the article is that what is needed in Western Africa to fight Ebola is medical personnel.  Good as far as it goes.  However, in fighting Ebola a couple of more things are needed.  One of them is isolation facilities (which have to be provided) and another is ways of disposing of those who die (and of medical waste) in ways that do not spread infection.  While I applaud Cuba's decision to send 135 medical personnel, that is a drop in the bucket and using them for these other activities is a waste of their talent and training.  Thus the 3,000 US Service members.

And, I wonder what Mr Llindorff thinks about the scourge of Boko Haram.  Just ignore it and it will heal itself?  That said, with the Administration trying to pivot to Asia and the problems with ISIL, the Western part of Africa appears to be small potatoes for the US.  And what about the previous Cuban intervention, the one in Angola?

Regards  —  Cliff

Vice President Biden at the Microphone

For John, BLUFOur Vice President does have a way of saying the wrong thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Our Vice President put his foot in his mouth with his use of the word "Shylock" to refer to bankers.  He did apologize.

Then there is this from the Instapundit Friday.

OKAY, HE’S JUST TROLLING US NOW:  Biden to women’s conference:  I miss Republicans like Bob Packwood.  “Nothing says ‘outreach to women’ more than getting nostalgic for a man bounced out of office for sexual harassment.  Right?”
Which brings to mind the remark by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy:
“When people ask me” about impeachment, McCarthy said, “I say, ‘Have you met Joe Biden?’
Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rejecting Canadians

For John, BLUFOur parking meters should be able to handle Canadian Quarters.

When I go to stores and get change there is a a likelihood that I will get a Canadian Quarter.  And I spend it like a quarter, sometimes.

Today I was downtown at 0800 and parking by the Lowell City Hall, along the island with the Ladd & Whitney Civil War monument and the Winged Victory statue.  Because I was driving my wife's car I didn't have my dollar coins and I used quarters.  After putting in four quarters I dropped in, without thinking about it, a Canadian quarter and the machine rejected it.  That wasn't so bad, but the machine also rejected all my previously deposited quarters and canceled my transaction.  That seemed a little weak.  Or, maybe a poor job of programming.

Regards  —  Cliff

Kudlow's Plan

For John, BLUFWe need to get the money flowing again and getting people hired.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On the "Financial Exchange" on WRKO this morning Mr Larry Kudlow was on, espousing his solution to our economic doldrums.

Mr Kudlow's plan is to reduce corporate income tax and to allow corporations to repatriate the billions they have overseas with a minimal tax (he suggested 5%).  Mr Kudlow believes that such an action would get money moving again in the economy and thus stimulate employment and possibly give us a 4% growth rate.

I like it.  It might not work, but nothing else is working.  Right now the unemployment rate is going down not due to people getting jobs but due to people dropping out of the labor force.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates six different measures of unemployment, U1 through U6, measuring different aspects of unemployment:

U1:  Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force.

U2:  Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force.

U3:  Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate).

U4:  Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers.  (U3 + "discouraged workers")

U5:  Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.

U6:  Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.

NOTE:  Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months.  Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work.  Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.

We usually see an unemployment rate based on U3.  Thus we don't actually consider someone who is out of work and has stopped looking and is living in his or her parents' basement or is couch surfing amongst friends and relatives.

But, back to Mr Kudlow, the fact is that tax policy is social policy.  Taxes, intended or not, influence how people, including business people, operate.  If the tax burden becomes heavy enough people do things that circumvent the law.  That is why such a large percentage of cigs sold in the Boston area are from the gray market.  It is human nature.  If you do sometime to me that I believe is unfair, I will try to circumvent it.  If your tax on me seems unfair, I will try to work around it, sometimes even if it costs me to do that.

Having said I agree with Mr Kudlow, I don't wish someone to think I am "big business".  Notwithstanding the myths that are out there, a lot of Republicans are "small business".  It is the Democrats who are big business.  The relationship is that Democrats provide the things that make big business work.  For example, a lot of series of regulations has much less impact on a big business, which has lawyers and accountants to deal with such things, and which can absorb them into the overhead.  On the other hand, a small business finds such regulations to be much more of a burden, having a smaller financial based to support the needed lawyers, accountants and other administrative personnel.  It isn't the nth instance of the regulation that is expensive, it is the first instance.

Let us support Mr Kudlow's plan, but let us not think that big business is the savior of the nation.  We need to be protecting and supporting small business.  By protecting, I mean from Government.

Regards  —  Cliff

Here are a passel of definitions:

Labor force (Current Population Survey) The labor force includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary.

Labor force participation rate The labor force as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.

Marginally attached workers (Current Population Survey) Persons not in the labor force who want and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Discouraged workers are a subset of the marginally attached.

Marginally attached workers (Current Population Survey) Persons not in the labor force who want and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Discouraged workers are a subset of the marginally attached.

Unemployed persons (Current Population Survey) Persons aged 16 years and older who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

Unemployment rate The unemployment rate represents the number unemployed as a percent of the labor force.

Scotland Says No

For John, BLUFOur Federalized system seems pretty good and its inventors pretty smart.  We just need to not mess it up.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Scotland says No, but the British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, says there will be more devolution to come, with legislation in January.

The vote seems to have broken 55% against and 45% in favor of separation.  If it was a US Presidential election we would call it a landslide, but with such a large percentage saying separation, there will need to be some fence mending.  Maybe even in Dracut.

The key point to draw from this quick analysis by The Wall Street Journal is that centralization of government, as with the European Union may have peaked and the wave of the future may be moving authority back closer to the People.  As populations increase the distance from Government for any one individual or any group seems to get greater.  One way to prevent disaffection is to make local control a reality.

From the article:

Mr. Cameron said work would begin to grant the devolved government of Scotland more control over tax, spending, and welfare, with a view to forming plans by November and draft legislation published by January.

"To those in Scotland skeptical of the constitutional promises that were made let me say this—we have delivered on devolution under this government and we will do so again in the next parliament," Mr. Cameron said following the result. "The three pro-union parties have made clear commitments on further powers for the Scottish parliament—we will ensure that those commitments are honored in full."

In a surprise proposal, Mr. Cameron also said England, Wales and Northern Ireland should have greater independence in how they govern their affairs.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The United Kingdom is Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Great Britain is England, Scotland and Wales (and for the folks from Cornwall, Cornwall).  England is the bottom half of the island of Great Britain, minus Wales to the West and (and Cornwall to the Southwest).  Wales is that wonderful place with the very long town names located to the West of England.  Then there are some strange arrangements with some of the other islands of the British Isles.

Ballot Question One

For John, BLUFDishonest Presentation of Ballot Question 1.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In yesterday's edition of The Boston Globe was a letter by Ms Katherine S. Fichter, of Somerville.  I have no quarrel with her points on Ballot Initiatives 2, 3 and 4, but I think she COMPLETELY MISSES THE POINT about Ballot Initiative 1.

Ms Fichter starts her second paragraph as follows:

Question 1 asks whether we are willing to pay our fair share for safe and modern transportation infrastructure.
This is a TOTAL MISUNDERSTANDING of the Ballot Question.  Here is the Massachusetts Secretary of State's presentation of the Ballot Question:
A YES VOTE would eliminate the requirement that the state’s gas tax be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.
There it is.  Not to roll back the tax increase but to prevent turning additional increases over to a bureaucracy to determine based upon the inflation rate.  Following is the straight forward statement of the YES vote.
IN FAVOR:  Voting yes simply stops the linkage of the gas tax to inflation.  This linkage causes the tax to increase every year without a vote of the Legislature.  That’s taxation without representation.  If the Legislature wants to increase taxes, they should have to vote for it.  No tax should automatically increase.
The opposed wording is disingenuous to say the least:
AGAINST:  Question One threatens the safety of you and your family when traveling on Massachusetts’ roads and bridges.  The problems are startling: according to the Federal Highway Administration, 53% of all bridges in the state are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.  Moreover, 27 bridges have been closed because they are unsafe.  Potholes and bad roads cost Massachusetts residents $2.3 billion a year in car repairs.
I am voting for this question, and I am not against fixing our highways.  In fact, I think we need to be investing billions in fixing our highway situation.  We don't need to just fix the bridges and potholes, but we also need to improve our existing highways.  For example, Route 38 in most other states would be two or more lanes in each direction, with sidewalks and left turn cutouts.  But, I believe the monies must be voted explicitly by the General Court and not handed over to bureaucrats to do, based upon this or that formula.

Further, it is time to stop making the excuse that our roads are the product of four hundred year old cow paths and thus can not be changed.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Is This True?

For John, BLUFMassachusetts as seen from outside.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the comic strip Get Fuzzy.

By the way, from The Boston Globe this morning.

Regards  —  Cliff

Advice Regarding Fighting ISIL

For John, BLUFEveryone is a strategic expert.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the on-line presence The Hill we have this short article on an OpEd piece in The [Manchester] Guardian about the current US fight against ISIL.  The headline is "Chelsea Manning:  US can’t defeat ISIS with ‘bombs and bullets’".

Remember when Chelsea was Bradley?  Remember when she was an Army Private First Class (PFC) and involved in leaking massive amounts of data to Wikileaks?  Remember when she was condemned to serve 35 years at The United States Disciplinary Barracks (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas).

Well, at any rate, here is her OpEd in The [Manchester] Guardian.  The Headline is "How to make Isis fall on its own sword" and the sub-headline is "Degrade and destroy? The west should try to disrupt the canny militants into self-destruction, because bombs will only backfire".  This falls along the line presented by David Kilcullen in his book, The Accidental Guerrilla—In fighting the insurgents the force tends to alienate even more people, creating more insurgents (or guerrillas).

Here is the conclusion presented by Ms Manning:

Eventually, if they are properly contained, I believe that Isis will not be able to sustain itself on rapid growth alone, and will begin to fracture internally.  The organization will begin to disintegrate into several smaller, uncoordinated entities – ultimately failing in their objective of creating a strong state.

But the world just needs to be disciplined enough to let the Isis fire die out on its own, intervening carefully and avoiding the cyclic trap of “mission creep”.  This is certainly a lot to ask for.  But Isis is wielding a sharp, heavy and very deadly double-edged sword.  Now just wait for them to fall on it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Protecting US Citizens Abroad

For John, BLUFGlobal Terrorism, with diverse motivations, is a serious problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On City Life yesterday there was a discussion of the current ISIL practice of beheading Westerners who fall into their hands..  Both Guest Co-Host Linda Bown and Producer John McDonough want to "do something".

From The Huffington Post we have this article by Mr H A Goodman,"Of the 17,891 Deaths from Terrorism Last Year, 19 Were American. Let Iraqis Fight ISIS."  The author suggests that major military action might be disproportionate to the problem, at least from the US point of view.

Over 100,000 deaths are attributed to terrorism worldwide in other countries against other citizens in the past five years, while less than 60 of those deaths are American, so perhaps we're waging a war on terror to protect citizens of other countries?  Terrorism and the ideology that fuels it can't be destroyed by American military interventions and shouldn't be the reason we send our soldiers to counterinsurgency conflicts (with sectarian violence and ever changing political turmoil) that hurt our nation immeasurably.  We owe our soldiers and veterans better, especially since they do the fighting and there's still a VA crisis and an ongoing war in Afghanistan.  President Obama's strategy against ISIS is as short-sighted as Bush's was in getting us into Iraq in the first place.
The writer gives us a cost/benefit analysis.  Is it worth putting at risk tens of thousands of US Military personnel for what is a numerically small number of people?  Ms Linda Bown would have us commit US forces.  The problem with that approach is that it will result in American casualties, and also in the death and injury to a lot of non-ISIL people on the ground in the Middle East, resulting in a active recruiting for ISIL by US actions.

This is not an easy problem.  We have gone to war over this kind of thing in the past, and it has not been a free ride.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And are not ransomed, as some European nations engage in.
  I am not a Special Operator, but my sense of Special Operations actions is that they are well planned and well rehearsed and thus can not be conducted off the cuff.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Asset Forfeiture

For John, BLUFThis could seriously impact the economy of Florida.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I WISH I COULD CALL THAT CRAZY:  Canadian News Outlet Warns Canadians That US Law Enforcement Officers Will Pull Them Over And Seize Their Cash.
Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

What To Believe?

For John, BLUFCross cultural science.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is discouraging news:

"The science of sex:  4 harsh truths about dating and mating".

Don't tell the NFL or Sports Media.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ebola Statistics

For John, BLUFIt either dies out or it doesn't, and if it doesn't, there will be big problems.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Wired Magazine we have "The Mathematics of Ebola Trigger Stark Warnings:  Act Now or Regret It"

Earlier on Tuesday, on City Life, host George Anthes asked about why are we sending military forces to Africa to fight Ebola.  Part of the reason is that we actually have forces trained and equipped to send (and the airlift to actually get them there) and part of the reason is that others don't seem to yet understand how serious the problem is.  Then, of course, there are those [jerks] who just want a free ride.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Mocking the Enemy

For John, BLUFIn foreign policy one should speak politely, if sometimes forcefully.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

OpEd writer Peter Lucas of The Lowell Sun is often disparaged by various citizens of Lowell for being a hack.

The Tuesday column, "Taunts come back to haunt mocker in chief", talks to how the President has used mockery as a tool for both domestic and foreign policy and how some of his comments have come back upon him.  Mr Lucas does mention Mr Saul Alinaky and his Rules for Radicals.

Mockery does not seem a good way to conduct foreign policy.

Regards  —  Cliff

Europe Slowly Breaking Into Smaller States

For John, BLUFI am guessing some negotiations will be involved.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Tomorrow the Scots vote on Independence from Great Britain.

Do you think "be careful what you wish for" could apply here?

On the other hand, a Europe of 50 smaller states within a European Union might work out, if the EU can accept some diversity of thinking and acting and weights and measures and cheese growing and potato chip manufacturing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Not Getting It Right

For John, BLUFObama Administration has serious communications problems.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the web magazine War on the Rocks Ray Evens says "Say "Benghazi" Again, I Dare You".

Yes, Ryan is worked up over this.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, September 15, 2014

Obama Adrift?

For John, BLUFThings may not be all good in DC.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Washington Post, "Post Partisan" section, we have Commenter Ed Rogers giving us "The Insiders:  Is there a mutiny brewing around Obama?" A mutiny?  That doesn't sound good, or even very American.

Is a mutiny happening around President Obama?  It appears possible that the president may not have made two of his most recent decisions with complete free will.  The announcement that he would delay his immigration initiative until after the election and his formal announcement that the United States would take military action against the Islamic State could have been coerced.

Maybe Democratic leaders in Congress and a few members of the Obama team have had it.  Could it be that, after President Obama briefed Democrats in Congress on the immigration plan, they balked?  Maybe the president was told that, if he waved in millions of new illegal immigrants before November, there would be an open revolt against him within the party.

Similarly, a few members of this administration who have independence, stature and an adult disposition may have told the president he must act on the Islamic State or else they were out.

It is the Wash Post and not Fox News.  Unsettling.

Regards  —  Cliff

Decaying Chains?

For John, BLUFHas Radio Shack lost its way.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a meditation on Radio Shack, from Mr Scott Ott, at PJ Media.

I got a pointer from the blog Maggie's Farm.

Regards  —  Cliff

Minority Leader Pelosi Predicts

For John, BLUFI will not comment on Ms Pelosi.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Using my search engine I don't see any main stream media talking about it, but apparently on HBO's Mill Maher show Real Time, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi commented on a possible Republican victory in the US Senate.
"It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate.  Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if Republicans win the Senate," Pelosi said, smiling.
Civilization would be in jeopardy?  Really? 

It is possible she was trying to use humor to make a point.  It is just that it was tacky.  Take it from someone who has tried to be funny and failed.  This was a bad joke, if it was, in fact, a joke.

On the other hand, she might really believe Republican control of the Senate would mean civilization being put into jeopardy.

Regards  —  Cliff

How Washington Self-Organizes

For John, BLUFParties create themselves.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

City Life Producer John McDonough likes to say that when he votes he is not voting Republican or Democrat, but voting for Americans.  He wants to send Americans to Washington, to look after our business.  He thinks parties get in the way.

We are, in fact, all Americans, but we do have different political views.  So, transport yourself to Congress, where you are a shiny new US Representative from Massachusetts.  You were elected to represent the views of the votes, those who voted with you and those who voted against you.  You are, after all, an American, and one of 435 like Americans in the US House of Representatives.

There are a couple of key issues about which you feel strongly.  You wish to legislate in support of your ideas and ideals.  Below is a sample or sharply contrasted views, views often based upon underlying philosophical views:

One ViewDifferent View
KeynesChicago School
Man-made Global WarmingNormal Climatic Cycles
Restrict Gun OwnershipSecond Amendment
Single Payer Health CareFree Market Health Care
Graduated Income TaxFlat Tax Rate

Do you just wait for the vote to be called, or do you team up with others who think like you?  Is it possible that there are people who think like you on a number of the issues listed and also on some other issues?  Is there some danger that you and your like thinking brethren will sort of drift together to accomplish your aims?  Maybe in a year or so you and your friends might group together to make sure everyone gets reelected?

At what point are you a member of a dreaded "party"?

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Assault Weapon Myth

For John, BLUFSometimes you need to dig down to find the cause of the cause.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Instapundit sends us to the blog Bearing Arms, which has a link to an Opinion Piece of the "Week in Review" section of The New York Times.  The writer of the NYT item, Mr Lois Beckett, is a reporter who covers gun violence for ProPublica.  The article is "The Assault Weapon Myth".

The story in the Bearing Arms starts with this short paragraph:

In a stunning op-ed released Friday, the NY Times finally admitted that “assault weapons” are a made-up political term fabricated by anti-gun Democrats.
That may be a bit over the top, but I have to admit that I have thought the definition of "assault weapon" seemed pretty contrived to me.  It is sort of like the distinction between a regular weapon and an automatic weapon or a semi-automatic weapons.

Here is the lede from the story in The Old Gray Lady:

OVER the past two decades, the majority of Americans in a country deeply divided over gun control have coalesced behind a single proposition:  The sale of assault weapons should be banned.

That idea was one of the pillars of the Obama administration’s plan to curb gun violence, and it remains popular with the public.  In a poll last December, 59 percent of likely voters said they favor a ban.

But in the 10 years since the previous ban lapsed, even gun control advocates acknowledge a larger truth:  The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.

It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year.  Little handguns do.

So, we were seeing the difference between analysis and theater.

That said, there are thoughtful people out there trying to develop other solutions, such as Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu of New Orleans and Mayor Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia.  These two are the founders of Cities United, a network of mayors trying to prevent the deaths of young black men.  As Mayor Landrieu says “This is not just a gun issue, this is an unemployment issue, it’s a poverty issue, it’s a family issue, it’s a culture of violence issue.”

The New York Times article ends up:

More than 20 years of research funded by the Justice Department has found that programs to target high-risk people or places, rather than targeting certain kinds of guns, can reduce gun violence.

David M. Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, argues that the issue of gun violence can seem enormous and intractable without first addressing poverty or drugs. A closer look at the social networks of neighborhoods most afflicted, he says, often shows that only a small number of men drive most of the violence. Identify them and change their behavior, and it’s possible to have an immediate impact.

Working with Professor Kennedy, and building on successes in other cities, New Orleans is now identifying the young men most at risk and intervening to help them get jobs. How well this strategy will work in the long term remains to be seen.

But it’s an approach based on an honest assessment of the real numbers.

Imagine that, "an honest assessment of the real numbers".

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From Wikipedia we have this description:  "An automatic firearm is a firearm which continuously fires rounds as long as the trigger is pressed and held and there is ammunition in the magazine/chamber.  This is in contrast to a semi-automatic firearm which fires one round with each individual trigger pull. Although both "semi automatic" and "fully automatic" weapons are "automatic" in the technical sense that the firearm automatically cycles between rounds with each trigger pull, the terms "automatic weapon" and "automatic firearm" are conventionally reserved to describe fully automatic firearms.  Confusion can be avoided by this convention."
  I used to be pretty impressed with Mayor Nutter, but then indications of voter fraud emerged in his city and he covered for it, which made me less impressed.  This could change my mind again.

Pope Francis on Current Events

For John, BLUFWar is the human condition.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

My Wife forwarded this item from Yahoo News (sourced from Reuters), about a homily by Pope Francis, delivered during services at a World War One War Memorial in Italy.
REDIPUGLIA Italy (Reuters) - Pope Francis said on Saturday the spate of conflicts around the globe today were effectively a "piecemeal" Third World War, condemning the arms trade and "plotters of terrorism" sowing death and destruction.

"Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep," Francis said in the homily of a Mass during a visit to Italy's largest war memorial, a large, Fascist-era monument where more than 100,000 soldiers who died in World War One are buried.

The pope began his brief visit to northern Italy by first praying in a nearby, separate cemetery for some 15,000 soldiers from five nations of the Austro-Hungarian empire which were on the losing side of the Great War that broke out 100 years ago.

"War is madness," he said in his homily before the massive, sloping granite memorial, made of 22 steps on the side of hill with three crosses at the top.

"Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction," he said.

As we look around it does, in a sense, resemble a world at war, albeit in a piecemeal fashion.

Regards  —  Cliff

Georgia Voter Registration Issues

For John, BLUFWhere there is a chance to gain by fraud there is likely to be someone who will try for the gain.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Apparently down in Georgia they are looking at voter fraud, in this case fraud in registration, which one would assume, would lead to fraud in voting.  Why register people, real or fictitious, if not to then use those registrations for folks to vote.

This article is from The Hill and is by Alexandra Jaffe.  The headline is "Voter fraud probe roils Ga. Senate race".

Sadly, former Senator Sam Nunn's daughter is being sullied by this investigation.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, September 13, 2014

One View on Use of Airpower Against ISIL

For John, BLUFOne should have a strategy, but also an operational plan.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The reliance on air power has all of the attraction of casual sex: It seems to offer gratification but with very little commitment. We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone.
This was a recent quip by retired US Air Force Four Star Michael Hayden.  It has been noted by Law Professor Ann Althouse in her eponymous blog and by Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, in his Instapundit Blog.  It was in Mediaite and at least one other news publication.

However, attribution may go to Professor Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University, back in 1990.

Mediaite closes its short item with these words:

That being said, Hayden still thinks airstrikes are better than nothing, an argument one could also make about casual sex.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Back in the mid-1980s I was stationed with then Major Michael Hayden.  He is a very insightful and intelligent officer.

Page Two

For John, BLUFI, for one, am pulling for the local rag.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On page 2 of today'sThe Lowell Sun is an article datelined out of New York City, but involves us here in Lowell.  On page 2 is an article about Digital First Media Group looking to sell off its media properties, which include The Denver Post, which in turn includes The Lowell Sun.  The lede is:
Digital First Media, the operator of this web site and newspaper, announced Friday that it will "evaluate and consider strategic alternatives" that could lead to the sale of some or all of the company.
Some may have other views, but it seems to me that the shuttering of our local newspaper would have a major impact on how news is provided, how information is disseminated.  Newspapers can be very important to communities.  That was the theme of the made for TV movie on the Hallmark channel last evening, The Wishing Well.  Yes, we idealize (or demonize) local newspapers, but they help us understand what is going on around us.  We even provide The Stars and Stripes to Service personnel and their families overseas, and it does a good job of helping folks know what is going on locally and back in the States.  As I recall, in Germany, each Thursday edition listed all the Volksmarches for the weekend, an important service to Service personnel.

I, for one, hope The Lowell Sun continues to burn brightly.

Your mileage may differ.

Regards  —  Cliff

US Senate v CIA

For John, BLUFThe Senate remembers it is in charge.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau we have Reporter Ali Watkins looking at a closed-door meeting between US Senators and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr John Brennan.  The headline is "New sparks fly between CIA, Senate Intelligence Committee".

The dateline is 12 September.

WASHINGTON — Tensions between the CIA and its congressional overseers erupted anew this week when CIA Director John Brennan refused to tell lawmakers who authorized intrusions into computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a damning report on the spy agency’s interrogation program.

The confrontation, which took place during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, came as the sides continue to spar over the report’s public release, providing further proof of the unprecedented deterioration in relations between the CIA and Capitol Hill.

For those of you looking to see this as a parochial fight, the story only mentions Democrat Senators.  This is a case of the Senate waking up to who it is supposed to be and acting that way.  There is a reason the Congress is mentioned before the Executive in the US Constitution.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fighting An Idea With An Idea

For John, BLUFWe can contain the ISIL problem, but we can't kill our way out of it.

On the 5th of September The Boston Globe under Mr Bryn Bender's byline, published "US wants more from Saudis in fight against extremists".  The lede is:
The US battle against the self-described Islamic State is being complicated by concerns that Saudi Arabia has helped support extremist Sunni elements — both spiritually and financially — even as the Saudis call themselves friends and allies of the United States.
This sort of skirts the real issue regarding our fight against ISIL.  At the core of ISIL is an idea and that idea can only be countered with another idea, an idea good enough to win back the young men and women who have signed up for ISIL.  Here is the third paragraph.
“The Muslim leadership in Saudi Arabia would rather spend their time writing [religious edicts] on the color of women’s fingernail polish” and has failed to deal with the crisis “inside of their religion,” said James B. Smith, the American ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2013.
Ambassador Smith hits on an important point.  The religious leaders in Saudi Arabia are only playing around the edges of the problem at this time. And I don't think Egypt gets it either
The grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, fiercely attacked the Islamic State (IS) yesterday [Sept. 8], describing its members as “criminals tarnishing the image of Islam.”  He said IS and other terrorist groups are “products of colonialism serving Zionism.”
Imam Tayab does not seem to grasp that this is a fight for what it means to be a Muslim.  He puts forward a vision for Islam, but to the degree he blames ISIL on Zionism and the West, to that degree he misses that the threat is to him and the Egyptian Government.

Here is a graphic insight into the problem we face, from a senior US officer in Afghanistan around 2002.

In Afghanistan when things were relatively quiet an Allied SoF unit made an interesting assessment at one of the remote villages.  All was quiet and it should have been a quick stop but they stayed.  A small herding village had an enormous new mosque & Madrasa complex adjacent.  Over time they discovered that the town was 99% illiterate and the Madrasa offered the only hope for their children to have a different or better life. Rules of the Madrasa were:
  1. No girls
  2. Boys must be committed to the Madrasa at approximately age 4 and would not be allowed to see their parents again until around age 12, and then must continue the program to completion.
The particular cleric was unknown.  Some checks showed that the texts used were off the scale in terms of radicalism.

The Allied Task Force spent 6 months securing supplies and permissions to set up an abandoned building as a school, secure texts, recruit mothers to teach...  Building an alternative took considerable time and effort in one of the hundreds of villages in the area.  I don't know if the effort was sustained or not.  It is to be noted that the Taliban placed a high priority on terrorizing and to destroy such efforts.

My impression is there are two parts of this.  One, per the Boston Globe article and comments, to understand the phenomena.  Two, disrupting the growth and evolution of said phenomena is then possible, but incredibly difficult and long term.

As one of my friends (a progressive Democrat with ties to the Administration) put it:
It just seems so strange to be talking about a religious/cultural fight without talking about the religion or the culture, even to note that it is a fight within the regional family.
Too right.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The response from the Arab Muslim leadership seems to be that this is a fight for the West to wage.  The problem is, we are foreigners and while we can kill our way to a diminished threat, we can't make it go away.  In fact, we can create new ISIL fighters along the way by our actions.  I would refer you to David Kilcullen's book, The Accidental Guerrilla.